Sermon Text: Doing An Imitation
My eggbeater imitation is pretty good, I think. But it's also useless. Not many people use the old-fashioned eggbeater any more. Most children have no idea what they are.
It's a shame...my imitation, which I learned from my childhood buddy, Mark Van Deusen, God rest his soul, is really quite good. But it's kind of useless.
Our reading today from the letter to the Ephesians includes a challenge to the highest imitation of all. "Be imitators of God, as dearly loved children, and walk in love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself for us, an offering and sacrifice to God."
Now, that is a useful imitation...but it's almost impossible.
Imitate God. Walk in love, as Christ did. Why? Because we are God's beloved children.
The most difficult teaching Jesus gave may be when he said, "Love your enemies." That sounds as impossible as imitating God. But it's the same thing. Jesus goes on to say that God makes the sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. In other words, God blesses everybody.
Jesus says, imitate the sun and the rain. Ephesians says, imitate God. Walk in love, as Christ loved us. But I think this is really, really, really difficult. How in the world can we do it?
Well, there's only one way. You know the old musician's joke. A guy walking in New York City stops a stranger to ask directions. "How do I get to Carnegie Hall?" he asks. And what's the answer? (Practice, practice, practice)
Practice being God. The New Testament says, over and over, that God's purpose is to transform us, to change us, to mold us into the very image of Christ.
We really are going to be Christ's body. You are what you eat, they say, and we feed on the life of Christ in this bread and wine week after week. You are going to be divine some day. You are going to be Christ some day.
Now you are a Christian, and that word means "little Christ." Some day you and I are going to be the real thing. So we might as well start practicing.
My favorite priest in the world died a few weeks ago. His name was Bob Liebenow. He lived into his 90's. I got to see him a few years ago. He was my boss when I was just starting out as a priest. I was his assistant priest at Trinity Church in Wheaton, Illinois. I learned a lot from him. He was a wise and a kind man.
One of the things he said again and again in sermons and in personal conversations is something you have heard me say. "Be kind...everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle." It was something he had read, and he repeated it a lot. And he lived it a lot.
I have gladly passed his words on whenever I can. And I've added my own words to it:
Be kind...everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle. So bring good cheer, and a listening ear.
Imitating God is done in small steps. Someone once said, "We do not do great things...
we do small things with great love." The truly wise Christian practices being God, crazy as that sounds. Be imitators of God, as dearly loved children, and walk in love.
I have often joked with my wife that you can always tell the in-laws from the outlaws at Giroux family gatherings. There is a look that many of the Girouxs, especially the males, have. Giroux guys often have a prominent French Canadian nose, and little, beady, close-set blue eyes. That's the family resemblance, like it or not!
You and I are God's kids. And like it or not, there is going to be a family resemblance.
You become like your parent.
You become like your family.
You become like your God.
So, walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself for us,
and offering and sacrifice to God.